University summer programmes are perfect for you if you are studying in Indonesia but wanted to get a taste of studying abroad. Not only that you would benefit academically, you would also have the chance to broaden your international network. In this article, Indonesia Mengglobal Contributor Veronika Xaveria shares her experience at Singapore Management University’s Global Summer Programme. This is Veronika’s third article, following her articles on Universitas Gadjah Mada’s double degree programme and on her first year studying at the University of Melbourne.
Since I was young, I have always dreamed of studying in Singapore. What motivates me to go to Singapore is the fact that I have both of my siblings studying there. Observing their educational journey, I notice that studying there has never been easy for them. Singapore is undoubtedly a challenging environment; the fast-pace culture, the high standard of education, and the competitive friends surrounding you, which require students to work harder to achieve high target scores. Nonetheless, as a risk taker, I perceive these obstacles as an exciting stepping stone for my personal development. Thus, I set an objective to study in Singapore someday should I have a chance to do so.
To give you a better understanding of my (not-so-easy) journey, I applied to study in Singapore when I was in Junior High School and Senior High School, where I miserably failed all the application screenings and entrance examinations. However after six years of waiting, I was finally granted a privilege to undertake the Global Summer Programme at Singapore Management University (SMU GSP) in July 2019.
The journey began when I saw a post from the website of the Office of International Affairs at Universitas Gadjah Mada’s (OIA UGM) about SMU GSP, which offers UGM students an opportunity to study at SMU under the support of Tahir SMU-UGM Management and Faculty Development Programme Scholarship (MFDP). I was excited when I saw the announcement, yet I was worried at the same time regarding my eligibility for this program. I was participating in a double degree program overseas in Melbourne, Australia at the University of Melbourne at the time of application. This means I had to apply remotely by sending all the required documents such as academic transcript, CV, motivation letter, IELTS result, passport, and student cards to OIA UGM and hoping they will accept my application. Surprisingly, I received an email from OIA a few days later saying that I had been nominated by UGM to participate in this program in SMU. A month later, I received an email from SMU stating I was accepted to GSP under the support of full scholarship.
I arrived in Singapore at the end of June 2019 to join the orientation and city tour before starting my class on Social Entrepreneurship in Asia. To describe my first impression, Singapore is indeed a magnificent place given the way it manages to strike a very delicate balance between green, modern, and global landscape simultaneously. Singapore is greatly diverse in terms of its diversity in culture, race, and belief. It was really exciting as well to interact with bright-minded students that were selected competitively from all over the world.
When it comes to classroom activity, I quickly familiarized myself with the learning method and curriculum as participation in class is highly regarded in SMU. Yet, I appreciate the way the curriculum is set as it allows us to critically analyse and collaboratively discuss the cases in the class with people from different background. In fact, I had people who came from different countries in my group such as Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia. This further allowed me to develop my cultural awareness and cultural intelligence during the cross-cultural communication process happening at our group meeting.
Of course, we did not spend all of our summer in the classroom. We also got to undertake course field trips to companies such as Bettr Barista and ComCrop to learn more about the real life implementation of social entrepreneurship in Singapore. From there, I got valuable key takeaways from my visits such as the salience of creating shared value between the company and the stakeholders, how to fill the institutional void, the way of bringing new actors, and the importance of co-creating the interdependence between problem and solutions. It was insightful as I got to experience the humble odyssey of entrepreneurship.
In addition to these visits, I was extremely lucky to be allocated company visits to Google and Salesforce AI Research Hub. The world is going through a digital transformation. As such, I am interested in learning and understanding more about technologies and their implication toward the future. The future of work will be really different from now and I noticed that Google and Salesforce do accommodate these changing landscapes by offering exciting workplace environments for their employees.
Discussing more about my course, Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, I admitted I have no regret to be allocated to that subject even though it was not my first choice. It goes without saying that my Professor, Kenneth Goh, put extra efforts in teaching us in the class and allowed us to challenge his notion in the class. This allows students to go beyond the traditional classroom environment. About the individual assignment, we were required to create a reflective report about “Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-discovery”. Even though it was quite different from the actual research assignment, I preferred this method as it enables me to be more expressive with my own thoughts and contemplate toward the new things that I have learned from the course. While for the group project, we had to make a business plan related to social entrepreneurship in Asia. It was no easy task to brainstorm the idea, especially when our group was first challenged by all of our classmates who claimed that our idea seems to be unrealistic and not feasible to be implemented. Yet, we viewed that as a learning curve and stepping stone for our group to fail fast and quickly refine the idea to be a better one.
In the end, we presented our idea of empowering the people in Bali’s villages to clean up the trash in Bali and turn them into 3D Printing Plastic Filament. It was quite challenging for us to completely change the direction of our report. That said, I was grateful to have teammates from diverse educational background from Biochemistry, Medical Natural Sciences, Industrial Relations, Economics and Accounting. This allows my group to stand out when it eventually came to final presentation, in which we managed to be the best group and our presentation was complimented by our Professor.
Eventually, this wonderful journey had to come to an end and I did not regret allocating a lot of time preparing for my SMU GSP application. Like one idiom states “Banyak jalan menuju Roma” and referring to Winston Churchill’s quote, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”. Believe me that patience really does pay off, even if frustration and failure have to be tolerated. Owing to endless support from the people around me, I was finally able to overcome my fear of failure, apply to this program, and live my long-lost dream to study in Singapore.
Photos provided by the Author